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Canning and Food Preservation!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

This summer I was able to have my own garden for the first time in many years. I had been living at the beach in a very windy, cold area with no soil for several years. Now, back in the Willamette Valley, I am in a place where you can really grow a lot of your own food if you want.

The town where I happened to be living had only one community garden, which was full. However my (now former) partner does some part-time work at a plant nursery and the owner gave us some space to use for a garden. The plot was actually quite huge—about 450 square feet. The soil was not great, but I put some work into improving it and had a pretty good gardening year. It was also great exercise and a good excuse to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Sorry about the rotated images...the originals are orientated correctly...OK, turn to your left...

I have always gardened for fresh cooking and have lots of experience with freezing my own food. I currently have a chest freezer full of berries, fruit, zucchini, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. However, I have never done my own canning, so I taught myself how this summer using the Ball Blue Book, a tamale steamer and an efficiency-sized stove with only two (small) working burners. Here is the result:

I took a bunch of green beans with me on a visit to my parents’ house in September and borrowed their pressure cooker to can those. I also bartered green beans for the tuna that is on the bottom shelf on the right—my dad canned that. My tomato crop turned out well, so I was able to trade fresh tomatoes for some salmon that a friend caught. I’ve also traded tomatoes for wild mushrooms and traded pumpkins for plums.

I have since moved, but I brought my root vegetables with me. I’ve set up a kind of root cellar in my apartment’s outdoor closet. Here’s what that looks like:

Smaller containers would have been better, but I used what I already had on hand. I brushed off as much dirt as possible, then layered the root vegetables in newspaper. I have white, red and purple potatoes in there, yellow and orange carrots, onions, garlic and a bunch of ripening tomatoes.

I feel very accomplished and am glad to have some good organic food on hand to get me through the winter.

I have also made some things that will help with convenience, like salsa—I canned five different types. I can take a ½ pint of salsa, throw that over a piece of fish and bake or grill that for an easy, delicious meal. Hazzah!

A few more pretties...

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AZULVIOLETA6 12/13/2013 12:14PM

    I really recommend the Ball Blue Book. It explains everything that you need to know to teach yourself how to can. It also contains good information on freezing and drying.

The state Extension Service is a good resource too.

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BARBGEO 10/22/2013 11:44AM

    WOW! This is awesome!

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REBELBLITZ 10/15/2013 10:46AM

    I am inspired by your food preservation efforts. I still need to learn to can. I have. Put up lots of dehydrated foods. I like your. Root celler idea too. I hope to follow your lead.

By the way, you have a great weight loss too. emoticon


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CRAZYNDNCOOK 10/15/2013 1:11AM

    WOW, your garden did good this year. My garden wasn't as great. But with hubby working all summer I was able to buy more than usual. I really need to learn how to pressure can, but we really aren't canned veg kind of people. I guess that is why I own 2 chest freezers. Those both are stacked to the rim with what I bought and grew this summer. My cupboards are over flowing with jars of water-bath canned fruits, jams, salsa, tomatoes, pickled jalapenos, applesauce and fruit cocktail.

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M-BRUNER 10/15/2013 12:43AM

    You certainly have a green thumb!!!! emoticon

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ORCHIDLADY56 10/13/2013 9:48PM

    Great set up! Looks like you are set for the winter!

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KNYAGENYA 10/13/2013 6:50PM

    Wow! That is impressive. I am coming over to your house.

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MJ7DM33 10/13/2013 6:33PM

  Wow everything looks great! You are gonna have some good eats this winter! Thx for sharing! emoticon

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